There are over 450 cities in California. If you’ve never had the chance to explore the state for yourself, putting that into context can be hard. But for lack of better terms, California is freaking huge.

From mesmerizing beaches and sunny weather, to snowy rolling hills and vibrant communities– the Pacific coast is diverse, stunning, and truly has it all. No wonder the Golden State is one of the most desired places to move to in the world.

If you’re reading this, it could be that you’ve considered moving to California as well. But where to? And if so, which cities have the best jobs, most reasonable cost of living, and gorgeous weather to boot?

We sorted through the research, weighing those very aspects and more, to find 3 cities you should consider moving to if you’re looking to settle in California. The possibilities are endless, and these are just the start. But here are the top 3 cities in California to move to and why.

Los Angeles

Made for the makers, creatives and world dominating entrepreneurs. Los Angeles is a city of hustle and even bigger bustle. Here’s an overview of their always-on culture and community, local economy, and cost of living.

Los Angeles Culture & Community

LA’s communal diversity speaks for itself. People from over 140 countries who speak 180 languages call Los Angeles home, making it a true melting pot.

Coming from a more buttoned up city– like New York or Washington, DC— the laid-back Californian attitude might surprise you. People take their time here, whether they are crossing the street or making their way into the office.

A large portion of LA locals also don’t have the typical year round 9-5 job. That’s why you’ll see bars and pubs full of people even on weekdays. (In normal times, not during our current crisis of course.) On top of that, the city hosts many cultural events all throughout the year.

Los Angeles Economy and Jobs

California’s economy is the fourth largest in the US, with LA contributing its fair share. As one of the most dynamic economies in the world, LA is a tech hub as well as the world’s entertainment capital. Here, Silicon Valley meets Hollywood. If you are a techie or an artist, you’ll find a lot of opportunities in LA.

Cost of Living in Los Angeles

LA is the most expensive city in California. Compared to the US average utility and health costs are low. But other costs like housing, transportation and grocery shopping are higher. You’ll need a household income over $65,000 per year to make it in LA.

Expenses Average US Cost (Annual) Average LA Cost (Annual)
Rent (2 Bedrooms) $14352 $21096
Food $6602 $9276
Transportation $7737 $8667
Health Care $5000 $4624
Utilities $2060 $2048

(Source for all tables:,,,,,,,

San Francisco

Famous for its mild climate and colorful cable cars, this hilly city is a major tourist destination in California. San Francisco continues to top the list of best cities because it’s not your typical  ‘concrete jungle’. Rather the city boasts its fair share of lush green scenery, museums, a famous aquarium, the zoo, the beach, and hiking and skiing.

Culture & Community

The best thing about San Francisco is its wide range of neighborhoods. No matter what you’re into– be it food or the outdoors– you’ll find an eclectic San Francisco neighborhood to match your vibe. Head to SOMA (South of Mission) for their startup hub, The Mission and Noe Valley  for families and youth, the Marina is for food and views, and Pacific Heights for multi-million dollar homes.

Economy and Jobs

San Francisco’s population has been on the rise. Due to economic progress, people from other states continue to move to the area. Although, a shift to work from home by major tech companies can change the landscape of the city and its high prices.

Currently the population is almost 850,000. Robust economic growth is enhancing the city’s reputation every fiscal year. The tech industry in San Francisco is growing, along with the finance industry. There are available jobs for software engineers, marketers, UX designers and content strategists, finance managers, and executives.

Cost of Living in San Francisco

Along with LA, San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country. Although areas like The Mission and Marina can be cheaper, the average 1 bedroom apartment in San Francisco rents for $3400 per month. But don’t let these numbers scare you. Like everywhere else in the world, real estate is local. San Francisco has a number of rent controlled apartments and emerging areas that offer more affordable options.

You’ll need a household income over $100,000 per year to make it in San Francisco.

Expenses Average US Cost (Annual) Average San Francisco Cost (Annual)
Rent (2 Bedrooms) $14352 $30,094
Food $6602 $10,069
Transportation (Personal Vehicle) $8,737 $9,138
Health Care $5,000 $6,000
Utility $2,060 $2,664


Luckily, every city in California doesn’t break the bank. Enter Sacramento. Known as the City of Trees, Sacramento is one of the most environmentally friendly cities in California. To boot, residents enjoy perfect Mediterranean weather.

Culture & Community

Sacramento’s community is relatively small, and not as diverse as LA or San Francisco. But due to being in close proximity to San Francisco, you’ll have relatively easy access to the bigger city vibes compared to other small towns in CA.

Residents enjoy visiting the Sacramento Zoo, a host of museums, or enjoy a game at the Sleep Train Arena.

Economy and Jobs

Over the last few years, the local government of Sacramento has prioritized diversifying the economy. The city’s economic condition is improving due to promising industries like agribusiness, technology, and clean energy. For entry-level to mid-level executives, moving to Sacramento can be a great career option.

Cost of Living in Sacramento

Housing and utility costs in Sacramento are lower than the Californian average. Things like public transportation, food, and healthcare are cheaper in Sacramento compared to its counterparts. A peaceful enclave for families, you’ll find a quiet oasis away from neighboring megacities.

You’ll need a household income over $60,000 per year to make it in Sacramento.

Household Expenses Average US Cost (Annual) Average Sacramento Cost (Monthly)
Rent (2 Bedrooms) $14,352 $14,928
Food $6,602 $6,866
Transportation $8,737 $9,571
Health Care $5,000 $4,500
Utility $2,060 $2,018

Have you found a better city in California?


Featured photo of Sacramento by Edgar Guerra